The Presiding Bishop, Rev Zipho Siwa, has urged seminarians to produce fruit both “in season and out of season”.
Rev Siwa was preaching in a service to welcome the first year seminarians, on 18 January.
“When you become a preacher, preach in season and out of season and be careful that at any moment you do not become like the fig tree that Jesus cursed. It was out of season.
“When you are out of season, you become this huge mountain on the people’s journey to encounter God. Instead of encountering God, they encounter you – a mountain that stands on the way of their relationship with God,” Bishop Siwa said.
Sharing his thoughts on the incident in which Jesus and his disciples discuss the cursed fig tree (Mark 11: 20-25), the Presiding Bishop said the fig tree, like the temple, was a symbol of God’s blessings.
He said, “Jesus uses the fig tree as a metaphor for what he had just done in the temple; he had overturned the tables of the money-changers and whipped people with a sjambok. The temple, like the fig tree will not be restored. It will wither if the people continue to behave in the way they are doing. It will dry up and even when the time for figs comes, it will not be able to bear fruit. When the symbol of God’s blessings withers, where shall people find their hope? When the place we look up to dries up, where shall we place our hope?”
When in verse 23 Jesus talks about this mountain, Bishop Siwa said, he is being specific. He is not referring to any other mountain.
He said, “The mountain which Jesus was referring to was the temple which had become a centre of Jewish life and drawing people to it and the dominant activity in it was milking them and holding their minds at ransom in an oppressive way. It had become oppressive and exploitative. The temple had become bigger than God. It had become God. It had become like fig tree that was out of season.
“The mountain Jesus was talking about is a mountain of spiritual hunger, which in our context manifests itself in woundedness, violence when people tear each other apart, lack of respect for human life, corruption, the mountain of the water crisis in Cape Town and lack of regard for the environment which exploits God’s creation. That behaviour has to change. That mountain has to move.”
“Is there a mountain in your life that is troubling you? If you say to this mountain, ‘Move’, if you place that mountain before God, it will move,” Bishop Siwa said.